Adulting is hard. Parenting is harder. It’s easy to see my parent friend and their perfect Facebook posts of themselves -- looking like they walked out of a J. Crew catalog with smiling children in spotless Baby Gap ensembles, snacking on a gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free trail mix -- while I’m still on day two and a half of not showering and my own children are clad only in diapers, double-fisting goldfish crackers they found in the couch cushions from the week before and wonder if I’ve somehow gone awry in my own parenting tactics. After taking stock of the situation, I’ve compiled a list of seven “I don’t care” decisions I’ve made since becoming a mother that I can confidently attest to.
1. Not having natural births.
I went through my first pregnancy, fully expecting to have a natural birth. I was going to try not to opt for the epidural, my husband and I took a birthing class, which suspiciously glossed over everything that happens AFTER a c-section. I bought the ginormous medicine ball expecting to somehow bounce through the pain and apparently the momentum would force the child out of my loins (I’m going to be honest, I didn’t pay that close of attention during the birthing classes). I also wasted numerous hours constructing the perfect labor play list for my iPod. I fully expected my first born to come into this world to Salt-N-Pepa’s “Push It.” Not only did I not have a natural birth, there was no labor other than the first five days postpartum where I tried to remember how to laugh, sneeze, or poop without mortally wounding myself. I can’t think of anything that would change if I’d had a natural delivery apart from which parts of me would’ve been ripped apart.
2. Not having a babymoon.
In case you haven’t heard of this phenomenon, it’s a vacation the expectant parents take prior to birth to allow themselves to have one last solo vacay together before the birth. It never occurred to me to have one, probably because we had our honeymoon a couple months before becoming pregnant. And while I see plenty of beautiful pictures of my Facebook friends in exotic locales, holding their precious baby bumps on the beach, the point of vacation is relaxation and indulgence and there is nothing relaxing or indulgent about being pregnant. The sad truth is the greatest parts of vacations are wasted on the non-pregnant: alcoholic beverages, hot tubs, mind-blowing sex, and really good food: sushi, possibly unpasteurized cheese, and medium-rare steak. None of these things were going to happen during my pregnancy and no getaway was going to change that.
3. Not Receiving a Push Gift
This is another phenomenon I don’t fully understand. The last thing I want associated with my two major abdominal surgeries (also known as my children’s births) is a shiny gold locket or a diamond or anything I’m meant to enjoy. If you want to get me a gift I might enjoy after two c-sections, you can give me the gift of forgetting I had them in the first place. The fact is I don’t need a gift as a reward for birthing a baby. I didn’t really have an alternative at that point, any ways.
4. Not Sculpting My Lady Bits
If I’m going to spend a lot of time and money on a haircut, I want to take pictures, post it on Facebook, and show it off to my friends. For obvious reasons, no one should be showing off their landing strip or ivy leaf, downward pointing arrow, or whatever else ladies are carving into their hoohas these days). On top of that, I don’t have a high pain tolerance. Given the choice to rip all of the nether hair out by the roots or tape a picture of a daisy to my vajay-jay and call it a day, I’m going to pick the latter. I like to think my Cloris Leachman thanks me for it too (Oh yes, I named it). Shaving down there is all well and good, but if it’s going to take me an extra half hour to tame the beast, frankly I think that time would be better spent watching Netflix with a glass of wine. It’s a matter of priorities.
5. Feeding my kids processed foods, cow’s milk, juice, gluten, or sugar.
Look, I get it. Processed food and sugar is bad for us. There are a lot of extra ingredients in the prepackaged products at the grocery store and too much sugar leads to obesity and diabetes. But I remember when a bowl of Frosted Flakes washed down with a glass of Sunny Delight was considered a well-balanced meal. I give my kids carefully prepared meals with their health and nutrition in mind, but most of it ends up on the floor any ways. And I could take out all sugar and processed food from my kids’ diet, but guess what they would be eating? Cucumbers and grapes. But not grapes because there’s sugar in them. And besides, I want my kids to have a well-balanced childhood, and part of that means learning to dunk an Oreo in a glass of (cow) milk.
6. Letting my kids watch TV for more than fifteen minutes a day.
We spend a lot of time outside the house on any given day, but during the time my children and I are in the house the TV is on, usually to marathon episodes of either Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Peppa Pig, or Mickey Mouse holiday specials (regardless of what month we are currently in). I can’t tell you how many moms I know that only let their kids have fifteen minutes of TV time a day. That’s all well and good, but there are certain things I have to get done around the house that I need to do without my children clinging to my yoga pants, demanding more (fill in the blank) which is actually two feet in front of them, or needing me to be involved in some elaborate game of play that will take exactly twenty-five minutes to prep and they will be done playing with exactly two minutes later. Whether its working from home, getting dinner on the table, or using the toilet without being watched, none of this is going to be accomplished without “Peppa Pig.” She’s accounted for numerous hours of productivity over the last year and a half. I’ve come to accept this.
7. Letting My Kids Get Dirty
Some of my favorite childhood memories are making a huge nest out of grass clippings, digging in the dirt for earthworms, and building sand castles at the beach. I let my own kids run barefoot outside, make messes with bins of colored rice and play doh, face plant into a chocolate ice cream cone, jump in muddy puddles, and dig in the sand at the play ground. Worst case scenario, I have to hose them off later or let them have a bubble bath at the end of the day and maybe have to throw out a shirt that is stained beyond saving. My kids have their whole life to be responsible individuals who shower even when they’re not caked in mud. I want them to relish the simplicity of getting dirty, because real life adulting is a lot messier than making mud pies. The least I can give them is a memory of a time when messy was fun.
I never had any delusions when I became pregnant that I would be the perfect parent and get everything right. In fact, I fully expect to get a lot wrong and that still sometimes terrifies me. Since becoming a parent though, I’ve found a lot of the mistakes I’ve made are not ones I regret. They’ve helped mold me into the parent I was meant to become, albeit a slightly imperfect one.